September 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Kara Fox, Mike Hayes, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 11:10 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022
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12:56 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Snowden welcomes news of Russian citizenship

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Chris Liakos

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has welcomed the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted him Russian citizenship.

Snowden is accused of espionage and theft of government property in the US for leaking troves of information on American intelligence and mass surveillance programs to the media.

The 39-year-old has been living in exile in Moscow after initially traveling to Hong Kong following his 2013 public disclosure of the classified information. He is facing up to 30 years in prison in the US.

In November 2020 Snowden and his wife, Lindsay Mills, applied for Russian citizenship. He had been already given permanent residency in Russia.

In a tweet he wrote: “After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS,” posting a picture of him, his wife and their two children.

“After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them -- and for us all,” he continued.

Some context:

Putin’s decision to grant Snowden citizenship comes just days after the Russian President threatened to escalate his war in Ukraine, announcing the “partial mobilization” of citizens.

In 2016, the US Congress released a report saying Snowden had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials since arriving in Russia. Snowden immediately disputed the accusations, writing on Twitter “they claim without evidence that I’m in cahoots with the Russians.”

Snowden would not be subject to the “partial mobilization” announced by Putin since he did not serve in the Russian army, according to his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, as quoted by Russian state media RIA Novosti on Monday.

“Now the spouse will receive citizenship after he has received it. Now the spouse will apply,” Kucherena told RIA Novosti referring to Snowden’s wife, Mills.

According to the lawyer, Snowden has a child who was born in the Russian Federation and received Russian citizenship at birth.

1:57 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Large lines of traffic wait to cross from Russia into Georgia, satellite images show

From CNN's Tim Lister, Sebastian Shukla and Gianluca Mezzofiore

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of the traffic jam near the Russia border with Georgia on Sunday.
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of the traffic jam near the Russia border with Georgia on Sunday. (Maxar Technologies/AP)

Satellite images from Sunday provided by Maxar Technologies show long lines of traffic on the Russian side of the border with Georgia. 

Maxar says the northernmost image shows traffic queuing about 16 kilometers (nearly 10 miles) north of the border crossing, and adds that "the traffic jam likely continued further to the north of the imaged area."

CNN reported earlier Monday, that images and social media video from the border crossing between Russia and Georgia have shown long lines of stationary traffic through a mountain pass. Drone video uploaded from the area Monday suggests there are hundreds of vehicles gathered on the Russian side, with witnesses saying that people are waiting up to 48 hours to cross into Georgia.

Several videos show additional Russian security forces arriving at the border in an armored personnel carrier.

Queues have built up at the Verkhnii Lars crossing from North Ossetia into Georgia and other border crossings since the announcement last week by President Vladimir Putin of a partial mobilization. 

Videos show some families and many men on their own among those waiting to cross at Verknii Lars Hundreds of people are approaching the crossing on foot, pulling suitcases. 

Amid the sudden influx, "we have been pushing government to introduce visas and/or close the borders," an opposition politician in Georgia, Nona Mamulashvili, told CNN.

At the moment, the border appears still to be open.